Dressing for your Age

My friends from yoga are all over 50.  Yesterday we talked about the rise of wearing people wearing costumes which, over the past 10 years, has been nothing short of meteorological.  The consensus of my friends is that costumes for kids under age 10 is very acceptable, but for young adults that it may be overwhelming and confusing.  Over age  25, the general feeling was that except for the odd party, it-is-not-so-much-accepted.  This got me thinking again about self-expression as we age.  You see those photo-editorials in fashion magazines about dressing in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  Should fashion get progressively drabber and boxier as age?  What constitutes “grown-up” behaviour in fashion and costuming?

The term Cosplay is short for costume play.   Like Halloween and other forms of theatrical performance, Cosplay is still the one place where people regardless of age, gender, economy, race, ability or sexual preference are judged for their enthusiasm, not their skill or the size of their weapon. 😛

There is, however, always the thought that one will be judged.  I was no exception to this as I prepared for FanExpo 2013.  I had decided to cosplay a character, Annie Leonhart, as known as the Female Titan in Attack on Titan.  Attack on Titan, it’s Japanese title Shingeki no Kyokyjin, is a manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama.  It also had an April 2013 animated series release.


Annie in her human form from the Japanese manga, Attack on Titan


Annie Leonhart in Titan form.

Before I get into the Annie character and my cosplay, I want to say that cosplay is dominated by the 16-25 age group, both male and female.  However, there is much ballyhoo over young women cosplaying provocative characters from comics, manga, anime, film and television.  Before we get into the whole skanky slutty costume argument, here is a nice piece by Sushi Killer about the CONsent message.  ‘Nuf said.

My worry was still that no amount of padding or make-up would disguise the fact that I am over 50.  Would I be accepted?  Would other attendees think I should be acting/dressing my own age?

Luckily, my desire to cosplay was encouraged by my co-op students who still believe in the Live and Let Live message.  The view at FanExpo is like visiting an unfamiliar country with brightly coloured birds, exotic animals, rare butterflies and the occasional scary spider.  At this point, I was more anxious to see if the character would be recognized.  I had taken the liberty of cannibalizing a Morph Muscle suit by handpainting what I felt the character representation would be – more like fan art than meticulously recreating the character in the manga or in the anime.  On Saturday, as I walked the aisles of art art, t-shirts, new games, autograph sessions and panels I saw a lone Eren Yeager cosplayer in human form on Saturday, but he bit his hand so I ran away.  That’s an inside joke as when the human Eren bites his hand he transforms into a monster Titan like me.


Posing for a Fan at the Nerd Mafia vendor booth.

It was finally gratifying when the few groups of young adults wearing Training and Survey cosplay recognized and wanted a picture with me, their nemesis – even this funny one where the Survey Corp cosplayers are towering over the supposed Titan.

The Colossal Titan [also a small female like me] made a brief appearance on Sunday, however, I think I was the only Female Titan during the entire FanExpo.  This excited me because the series is gaining popularity and you can’t buy the cosplay costume online.  Meaning that my costume was unique and I had to make it all from scratch which other cosplayers really appreciate.

Those who did not recognize the Annie-Female Titan character still complimented on on the hand-painted costume which I had laboured over for two weeks.  The tiny plastic figurines I had created for Armin Arlert and the Spinning Man were also a big hit.  They created conversation and gave me an opportunity to learn how to pose.  I’m sure some cosplayers spend hours in front of a mirror finding poses that are in character and show off the costume.

As the hours went on, I felt more comfortable and started to relate more to the character.  I came home happy and exhausted to a very understanding husband, who made me supper and poured me a glass of wine as I excitedly related my experience.

As for my clients at Fee FiFoFun Costumes & FX4 Costume Concierge, my goal is to find characters that are interesting, enjoyable and can be pulled off confidently.

Please visit my facebook page and my web store !

This article has been adapted and originally August 2013 in my In Disguise blog on all things costuming.

Golfing with Grampa – Guest Blog by Marius

ImageI asked my 23 year old son his opinion on what grandparents could do to stay engaged with kids his age.  I got a blank stare.  I then asked, well tell me what do you do with your grandparents.  He paused and said, “I go to their house.  I hug them.  I eat with them, maybe watch T.V.  I hug them again and then I leave.”

I was taken aback, and then remembered my own relationship with grandparents was not so different.  Ambivalence of your teen or young adult grandchild is not anti-social, nor does it mean that you are not close to or loved by your grandchildren.

I pressed Marius then just share a memory about his grandfather and this is what he wrote.  Marius says … About once a year, I’ll visit my grandparents in Calgary.  It’s a great feeling to be loved unconditionally.  I used to go to Calgary every summer for a couple weeks and bring my disassembled mountain bike with me.  At their house, I would quickly unpack and start to build my bike back to life.  Of course, my grandpa a retired auto-mechanic would help me.  They would love watching me doing wheelies down the length of street and were fascinated by my bike and my abilities.

When I wasn’t biking, I would ask grandpa what else he wanted to do besides watch me.  He said we could go golfing.   I loved the idea.   So I called up an old Calgary friend, Mike, and grandpa called a buddy — fuck I forget his name … anyways, off we went to the golf course and had a bite and were rolling before you knew it. I always get super excited to drive the golf carts, because I didn’t have a license.

I just wanted to get up to the tee and whack the ball, whereas grandpa would always take his time.  Grampa’s balls went a good distance in a nice clean shot and me, I started the day with 20 balls and went home with zero.  He never lectured, just laughed it off.   His golfing buddy was just priceless.  They were both seventy something in age, yet still interested in playing golf and keeping up with two 14 year olds.  Like a scene from Caddyshack, his friend would try so hard to hit the ball, but it would go only 15 feet or less every time.  It was hilarious and endearing and made my day.   It was the first time that I was present, in a fit teen body, about aging and sports.

The golf course was surrounded by ranches with all these beautiful cows roaming the grassy fields ands the Rocky Mountains in the background.  I ran over to the wood fence and was mesmerized by the cows so blissful in their natural environment.  Grandpa walked over and was asking what I was looking at.  I said the cows, they are amazing!  He hadn’t realized that what is common for him, cows, was big deal for me.  He reminisces about this story on a regular basis.   We had a such a great day golfing that even today at age 23 and grampa in his early 80’s we still try to get out every time I am in town.

My grandpa is a great man, genuine and strong hearted.   He had it hard growing up in rural Saskatchewan and had to work for everything he got.  I mean everything.  He told me about how he got his first pair of leather gloves when he was 13.  For a farmer next door he helped install their picket fence in minus twenty degrees , but he had no gloves.  Having finished the job, he had earned enough money to buy his first pair.  It was shocking for me to realize that every time I needed a pair of gloves it was always provided for me.

I don’t believe a thing was given to him, but good health and a great head of white hair.  I’ll always appreciate the time I spend with my grandparents and even more so because I know that they are closer to the end of their lives.

Alison speaking … I would love it if my kids spent more time with their grandparents,  I am sure that some do, but working on this piece with my son brings me back to reality.  When my Nanny, my mother’s mom, died in 1979, I can’t say there we were close.  I was busy with my own life, yet when after she died I was heartbroken for my mother and myself.  So heartbroken that I made myself ill with remorse that I had not tried to get to know her better.   My mother, however, never nagged, bribed or cajoled me about my grandparents – I think she trusted and knew that all relationships have their own rhythm.